# Staking and voting rewards

## Overview

Stakeholders gain voting power and can earn voting rewards by staking their ICP tokens.

The Internet Computer is a decentralized computer whose evolution is decided by its stakeholders through voting. This means decision impacting the future of the Internet Computer are made by people vested in the outcome. In return for participation in governance, the Internet Computer Procotol provides voting rewards. Voters can vote actively, or they can use a form liquid democracy to automatically follow other voters.

## Key concepts

### Neurons

To become vested and obtain voting power, ICP tokens must first be staked, and then locked up for a length of time greater than 6 months to, at most, 8 years.

Just as tokens are held in a user's account, stake is held in a special account called a "neuron". Each neuron has its own identifier, and several attributes relating to its stake. These include:

- The length of time it is locked for (the "dissolve delay").
- Whether it is currently dissolving.
- How much reward it has accrued as a result of voting on proposals (the "maturity").

Once a neuron is locked for more than six months, it gains the ability both to submit proposals and to vote on them. Voting in turn generates voting rewards, based on how active a neuron is in voting on proposals. If you vote on every open proposal, you gain the maximum reward.

A neuron can also "follow" other neurons, which causes it to automatically vote the same as the majority of the neurons that it follows.

### Voting power

The voting power of a locked neuron is determined by several factors:

- Principally, by its stake. 1 ICP = the power of 1 vote.
- Next, by its lock up duration, or dissolve delay. 6 months grants a 1.06x voting power bonus, and 8 years grants 2x. All other durations scale linearly between.
- Lastly, by its age, or length of time spent locked up without dissolving. 4 years grants a 1.25x bonus, multiplicative with any other bonuses. All other durations between 0 seconds and 4 years scale linearly between.

This means that the maximum voting power, of 2.5 votes per ICP staked, is only achievable by locking up your neuron for 8 years, and leaving it in that locked up state for 4 years. At that time you will have the most voting power for the stake committed.

### Maturity

Maturity of a neuron increases as it collects voting rewards. Each day the network rewards participants by allocating to every voting neuron a portion of the total reward, based both on its voting power at the time proposals were made, and the number of proposals it voted on.

For those who wish to compound gained maturity in their neuron, the most natural activity is to "stake maturity" on a regular basis. If you wish to liquidate maturity gained, you can use it to produce liquid ICP.

## Why staking matters

Staking is a way of allowing those who support the Internet Computer to decide what happens next with the platform.

When the Internet Computer first launched, all proposals required a majority vote to pass. Gradually, however, this is changing. After an update it is now possible for proposals to pass with only a majority among 3% of the total voting power, meaning that proposals stand a chance even if large entities abstain and the majority of the network does not vote.

## Voting rewards

Voting rewards are an important aspect of neurons and can be compounded to increase your total voting power. So to better understand staking and reward, it may be helpful to look at staking from two perspectives:

### Long-term: voting rewards over years

The voting reward function is depicted in this curve: https://dashboard.internetcomputer.org/circulation

In the first year, the NNS allocates 10% of the total supply to generate
voting rewards. Note the term "allocates" rather than "mints", because
rewards are not minted until they are spawned and the according reward neuron is
disbursed. This allocation rate drops quadratically until it reaches 5% by year 8 after genesis.
The formula for the annualized rewards as a percentage of total supply for the first 8 years is `R(t) = 5% + 5% [(G + 8y – t)/8y]²`

.

Like all parameters in the NNS, the minting rate can be changed via NNS proposals, but this is the current rate schedule.

Because the total supply of ICP is a dynamic system with deflation and inflation, it is impossible to predict what voting rewards will be on any given day or year in the future. It is relatively easy to predict what the percentage allocation rate will be months from now, but it is much harder to predict what the total supply will be both because of potential changes to the rate, and how often stakeholders will spawn their maturity.

### Short-term: voting rewards each day

Every day, rewards are granted by the network to each voting neuron. The percentage of those rewards received by each neuron depend on the following factors:

- Amount of ICP and maturity staked.
- Length of dissolve delay.
- "Age" of the neuron (time spent in a non-dissolving state).
- Number of eligible proposals the neuron has voted on.

These values are combined to calculate the total voting power of a neuron. It is computed as follows:

- Only neurons with a dissolve delay of more than 6 months are eligible for voting. The maximum dissolve delay is 8 years.
- The voting power of a neuron is computed as
`neuron_stake * dissolve_delay_bonus * age_bonus`

. - In particular the dissolve delay bonus and the age bonus are cumulative.
- The neuron stake is the sum of staked ICP and staked maturity.
- The dissolve delay bonus (ddb) is a value between ddb
_{min}= 1 and ddb_{max}= 2 and a linear function of the dissolve delay (capped at eight years). - The age bonus (ab) is a value between ab
_{min}=1 and ab_{max}=1.25 and a linear function of the age of the neuron (capped at four years). A neuron starts aging when it enters a locked state. Aging is reset to 0 when a neuron enters a dissolving state. - The voting power is calculated when the proposal is made, not when the ballot is cast.

For example, if a neuron has a stake of 60 ICP and 40 staked maturity, it has a combined stake of 100.
Then, let's assume a dissolve delay of 8 years, which gives it a dissolve delay bonus of 2.
Finally, assume a neuron age of 2 years. This gives it an age bonus of 1.125.
All together, this neuron then has a voting power of `100 * 2 * 1.125 = 225`

.

The total pool of voting rewards for a given day is calculated as `ICP supply (total supply of ICP tokens on that day) * R(t) / 365.25`

.
The reward pool is then allocated in proportion to the voting power of proposals that are settled on this day multiplied by the reward weight of the according proposal category.

For example, if on a single day the NNS has generated 1000 maturity in total rewards (see below for more on how this is computed), and there were 10 proposals submitted for which only two neurons were eligible to vote on, and:

- Neuron A has a voting power of 20, and voted on all 10 proposals.
- Neuron B has a voting power of 80, and voted on all 10 proposals.

Then the 1000 maturity would be divided between these two neurons by their proportional voting power:

- Neuron A with voting power of 20, gets 20% of the total = 200 maturity.
- Neuron B with voting power of 80, gets 80% of the total = 800 maturity.

If either neuron had only voted for X% of those 10 proposals (weighted by the reward weight of the according proposal category), it's reward would be decreased to X% of its maximum eligibility.

For example, if on a single day there were 10 proposals, but a neuron only voted for five of them,
that neuron would only receive 50% of its rewards for which it is eligible that day.
If the five proposals the neuron voted on had a reward weight of two,
it would have a `weight_of_proposal_votes = 5 * 2`

, while the `weight_of_all_proposals = 5 * 2 + 5 * 1`

,
therefore it would receive `(5 * 2) / (5 * 1 + 5 * 2) = 66%`

of the rewards for which it is eligible that day.

### Inflationary and deflationary mechanisms

Deflationary mechanisms:

- Minting cycles to pay for compute and storage burns ICP to create cycles.
- Burning of transaction fees.
- Burning of the fee for failed proposals of neurons; note that this only happens at disbursement or merging of neurons, so accumulated fees can persist for a while before finally contributing to deflation.

Inflationary mechanisms:

- Node providers are paid by minting ICP.
- Voting rewards, once spawned and converted to ICP.